Crowdbeacon: Imagine a Location-based Quora

Ever needed a real time answer to a location question? While you're in luck, the new iphone App Crowdbeacon combines Yelp's locality with Quora's question and answer model of social media.

Ever needed a real time answer to a location question? While you’re in luck, the new iphone App Crowdbeacon combines Yelp’s locality with Quora‘s question and answer model of social media.

According to their website, “Crowdbeacon is a location-based service focused on one thing: making your location useful to you. Using Crowdbeacon, you can find what you’re looking for […] by getting responses in real-time from the local experts and businesses around them that have what they are looking for. And since sometimes responses aren’t enough, Crowdbeacon integrates the top results from Yelp, Foursquare and Wishpond to help you find what you need!”

So, let’s say you and a friend were planning to go see a movie, only to discover that after circling for a parking space and walking ten minutes to the theatre, you’re too late. You and your friend decide that instead of heading back to your car, you’d like to get dinner at a restaurant that can seat you in the next fifteen minutes. By posting this – in Crowdbeacon terms- “beacon” on the site, businesses and other users are able to respond, helping answer your question and guide you to the nearest restaurant.

At first glance, the App may seem very similar to other GPS based Apps such as Yelp or Foursquare; however, there are differences. Foursquare relies heavily on the idea of “checking-in”; whereas, Crowdbeacon is more concerned with the exchange of information. Its localization is what will draw close comparisons to Yelp; however, Crowdbeacon’s claims to be more effective for real time information. In our movie example, Yelp would’ve been useful to plan the night, but Crowdbeacon is your “in a crunch” App.

Because of its reliance on real time information which is generated by both users and companies, Crowdbeacon allows for a unique kind of communication in which people are able to create a thread of information, coming from a variety of different people. Theoretically, this should allow a range of answers, not to mention a range of interactions amongst users.

On first glance, the App appears to be quite useful, and it will be interesting to see if it gains enough users and participation to take off. However, what is perhaps most notable about the Crowdbeacon App is that it is another question and answer based social media tool.

From Stack Exchange to Quora and now Crowdbeacon, question and answer sites seem to be all the rage in social media in early 2011. While there are likely many factors that are influencing this trend, a brief look at Crowdbeacon’s FAQ section reveals some key similarities to Quora, providing two clues to help explain the question and answer trend: real time communication and extended network.

Crowdbeacon doesn’t focus on “adding” friends or relying on a personal network; instead, people ask questions based on location and keywords. These, in turn, generate a large community of responses. Similarly, Quora puts a heavy emphasis on topic rather than user specific following, allowing people to broaden the scope of potential responses. Second, and perhaps most importantly, both Crowdbeacon and Quora offer the possibility of real-time answers to specific questions.

While they’re both still new additions to the social media scene, it seems as though there has never been such a good time to ask a good question.